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Sun Prairie Library book club highlights Black authors, racial equality

The book club is part of a larger effort to increase racial equity in the library community.
Published: Nov. 22, 2020 at 8:08 PM CST
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SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (WMTV) - A new book club hosted by the Sun Prairie Public Library is focused on highlighting Black authors and themes of racial justice. The library planned the club in summer as part of a larger Racial Literacy initiative, an effort to increase racial equity in their community.

“There’s a lot of interest in this area, in this topic, where people really are willing to learn and put the work in and the time in that’s required,” said Sun Prairie Public Library director Svetha Hetzler.

Hetzler said the book club has attracted 20 to 30 people each month, more than double the number most similar programs have.

“Especially with the Breonna Taylor news right now, I think that that’s spurred even more interest,” said Donna Mackey, one of the book club directors. Mackey said even people who have not been able to sign up for the book club have asked her for more information about it.

Mackey, who helps run the monthly meetings, said she has been most excited by everyone’s desire to learn more.

“I’ve been in this community for over 30 years and I’ve just never seen this type of interest before,” she explained.

Cindy Mestelle is one of the book club participants—she has attended all three meetings so far. Mestelle said she did not grow up learning about race, but in the last few years, especially after protests this summer, she wanted to take action.

“It was time I woke up,” she explained, adding, “It just screams to me that I need to be more aware of why this is such a huge, huge problem.”

Mestelle said each meeting has lead to deeper conversations. Participants share different perspectives and often personal experiences.

“I think it’s very helpful to know that there’s others on the path to listening and learning and there’s others on the path that have experienced this,” Mestelle said.

For participants and library staff, the book club is a place for people to continue highlighting issues like systemic racism, even if it is not in the news.

“I think that’s where this book club has a real important place in our community is keeping that conversation, discussion and awareness going,” Hetzler said.

Mestelle added, “It’s not going to end my journey. This is going to have to be lifelong for me now.”

The book club’s fourth meeting will be held on Sunday, Jan. 24. To register, click here.

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